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AI will diversify human thinking and not replace it, says a new study by Tata Communications

September 06, 2018
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Tata Communications has released a new study based on input from 120 global business leaders that envisions a positive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future workplace. Shifting the conversation from dystopian fears toward human collaboration and cognitive diversity, the study identifies how AI can diversify human thinking rather than replace it.

The study identifies opportunities for businesses and employees based on insights from leaders such as Tony Blair, Executive Chair of the Institute of Global Change and former UK Prime Minister. According to Blair, "AI will allow us to do what it is that we are uniquely meant to do: focus on high-level thinking, strategy, and paving the way for innovation."

As per the study, 90 per cent of leaders agree that cognitive diversity is important for management and 75 per cent respondents expect AI to create new roles for their employees. Further, over 90 per cent of respondents believe that AI will enhance decision making.

Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley professor and co-author of the report, notes that “the prevalent narrative around AI has focussed on a ‘Singularity’ – a hypothetical time when AI will surpass humans. But there is a growing interest in ‘Multiplicity’, where AI helps groups of machines and humans collaborate to innovate and solve problems. This survey of leading executives reveals that Multiplicity, the positive and inclusive vision of AI, is gaining traction.”

Co-author Vinod Kumar, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at Tata Communications, points out that, “AI is now being viewed as a new category of intelligence that can complement existing categories of emotional, social, spatial, and creative intelligence. What is transformational about Multiplicity is that it can enhance cognitive diversity, combining categories of intelligence in new ways to benefit all workers and businesses.”

In addition to the survey of 120 leading executives, the study included 15 in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs, executives and thought-leaders, as well as discussion forums that brought together internationally renowned experts from the fields of AI, machine learning, design, art, government, politics, ethics, entrepreneurship, behavioural economics, journalism, engineering and human resources.

Other key findings include:

AI can enhance cognitive diversity within groups

There is growing consensus that diversity of thinking on projects yields better outputs. Business executives believe that AI could help create and maintain working groups that optimise this cognitive diversity.

AI can help workers become more agile, curious, and nimble

Almost all (93%) business leaders agree that AI can enhance employee engagement. AI has potential to assess each employee’s skills and innovation priorities, and suggest activities to spark creative thinking throughout the organisational hierarchy. This can democratise the creative process and increase engagement of all workers.

AI can enhance human collaboration

Business is increasingly multicultural, but a lack of understanding of languages and cultures can be a barrier to collaboration. Most (80%) of leaders surveyed agree that AI could facilitate team composition, organisation and communications, especially for global teams.

The structure of work will change and require greater agility and flexibility

Most (75%) executives envision AI creating new roles in their businesses.  AI has potential to free employees from tedious repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus much more on communication and innovation. Work will move from being task-based to strategic, enabling workers to enhance their curiosity and creative thinking.


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